The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and KIT Royal Tropical Institute are starting a large-scale study into the use and accessibility of digital payment services among migrants and their families worldwide. Led by KIT’s Financial Inclusion team, the research aims to provide insights for the development of financial products and services that better meet the needs and preferences of migrants.
Migrants send hundreds of billions of euros to their families elsewhere in the world every year. The contribution of these remittances to prosperity and development is increasingly recognised. However, for migrants, sending money to family is unnecessarily expensive and often not without risks. There are now numerous digital solutions for transferring money. But trust in and accessibility to digital payment services is still very limited among migrants and their cash-receiving families.
The UNCDF/KIT study focuses on approximately 4,000 clients of financial services providers in Africa and Asia who are already working with UNCDF to improve accessibility and use of their products and services for migrant households.
The study will, among other things, consult transaction data and profiles from the databases of service providers, to map the demand for and uptake of financial services among migrant households. This quantitative research will be combined with qualitative methods devised to delve into the experiences of migrants and their families with digital payment services.
An important question addressed in the study is whether gender differences play a role in the choice and use of payment services. Through focus group discussions and surveys, the researchers hope to gain insight into the specific user experiences of women and their assessment of the accessibility of payment services. The research focuses on both women migrants and recipients of remittances.
In the partnership with UNCDF, KIT acts as the project leader of the research. In addition to KIT, Butterfly Works and Aflatoun International, two other organisations from Amsterdam also contribute to the research. The results of the study, including a set of training and toolkits for financial services firms, are expected to be publicly available in April 2022.
“The strength of this new partnership with KIT is that it integrates rigorous research at scale with re-imagining financial products based on actionable insights and direct customer engagement,” said Premasis Mukherjee, UNCDF Digital Finance and Remittances Expert. “Remittances are a lifeline for countless households in developing countries, but we are only just beginning to tap their potential as a means of making financial services accessible to all. This new partnership is an essential step towards that vision.”
“This partnership with UNCDF offers a unique, innovative research to remittances on this scale. Our migrant-focused approach looks at remittances through the eyes of senders and recipients, providing insights from users’ experiences and perceptions – their challenges, needs and preferences”, says Maria Vitores, Senior Advisor Financial Inclusion with KIT Royal Tropical Institute. “The research is also gender-responsive: that offers insights for the development of financial services that work better for women in different market segments.”